Akron (19-7) at Oral Roberts (24-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 18th, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mabee Center (10,575) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Akron 12-1, Oral Roberts 14-0. Away Record: Akron 7-5, Oral Roberts 9-4. Neutral Record: Akron 0-1, Oral Roberts 1-1. Conference Record: Akron 11-1, Oral Roberts 16-1. Series Record: Akron leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: Sporting an undefeated home mark this season and having won 22 straight games at the Mabee Center, Oral Roberts takes the floor this afternoon against a hot Akron squad. The Zips come into this affair riding an eight-game win streak, while the Golden Eagles are also on fire entering this BracketBuster event, having captured four straight victories and 17 of their last 18 contests.
Akron has won all four previous meetings in the series with ORU, including an 88-84 victory on January 14, 1989 and a 61-59 triumph on December 2, 2006, the only two times the teams have played at the Mabee Center.
Oral Roberts picked up a 75-71 win over IPFW on Wednesday. Michael Craion blocked a three-point attempt with time winding down to clinch the first regular-season Summit League Championship for the Golden Eagles since the 2007-08 season. With their 16 league wins, the Golden Eagles have already tied the school record for conference victories in a season. Warren Niles scored 24 points to lead Oral Roberts to its most recent victory. Craion had 18 points and Dominique Morrison netted 15. Morrison, a 6-6 senior forward, averages a team-leading 20.3 points along with 4.1 rebounds per tilt. He enters this contest needing six points for 2,000 for his career. Niles (12.0 ppg) is second in scoring, followed by Craion (11.2 ppg), who also leads the team in rebounding (6.2 rpg). Steven Roundtree (10.6 ppg) is the other player in double figures. Roderick Pearson Jr. (8.0 ppg) and Damen Bell-Holter (7.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg) round out the starting five.
The Zips will step outside the Mid-American Conference and try to improve their 3-5 mark in eight previous BracketBuster appearances. That includes an 0-3 ledger on the road. A successful trip to the Mabee Center would give the Zips their 20th victory for a seventh straight season. They've already won 16 of their last 18 games. Akron is also strong on defense, holding opponents under 29 percent shooting from beyond the arc. On Wednesday, Chauncey Gilliam led a balanced Akron attack with 14 points, as the Zips used a dominating second half to beat Miami-Ohio, 74-59, at Rhodes Arena. Demetrius Treadwell added 13 points in a reserve role for the Zips. Nikola Cvetinovic, Zeke Marshall and Alex Abreu each scored nine for Akron, which logged a 41-26 advantage in the second half. The Zips have not lost since January 18 when they fell at Buffalo, which also marks their only conference loss of the campaign. Zeke Marshall, who is averaging 10.5 ppg and has 81 blocks this season, is a big reason for Akron's success. Cvetinovic is the unit's only other double-digit scorer (10.0 ppg).
Since the start of the 2002-03 season, ORU is 110-18 at home. Incredibly, during that stretch, the Golden Eagles have never lost more than three home games in a season. Beating the Zips, though, will be a monumental task, considering they've won by 10 points or more in seven of their last eight games.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oral Roberts 77, Akron 75
02/18 10:32:04 ET